Battery Automation

Cyan Tec have the skills and expertise to design and manufacture a wide range of automated systems, in varying industries, including automotive.

With the demand on the automotive sector to move to fully electric vehicles in a short space of time, Cyan Tec were well placed to assist with providing a number of systems that play a key role in battery stack production for a large automotive manufacturer.

Following the assembly of the battery stack – a number of battery cells compressed together on a standard platform – the battery is fitted with busbars and a pair of harnesses to complete the assembly. These components are then required to be laser welded to the terminals.

However, prior to the laser welding being performed on the busbars and the harnesses, the terminals are required to be laser cleaned to prepare the surface for welding.

The battery stack is presented in an optimal position for the laser cleaning process, where in this case, a servo driven gantry system presents the laser head in front of each of the terminals, triggering the laser cleaning process. The laser head travels along the battery until all of the terminals have been cleaned, before performing the same cleaning process on the opposite side of the stack. Although a linear motion system was selected in this scenario, in other automated solutions, Cyan Tec would opt for a robotic arm to present the laser cleaning head to a work object.

Once cleaned, the battery stack is fitted with busbars – various versions depending on the type of battery – which mechanically links the terminals together. The busbars, located in a carrier system, are fitted loosely prior to welding, and therefore rely upon dedicated clamping tools (also designed and manufactured by Cyan Tec) to apply the required force to the terminal / busbar / harness area. This process is critical to the laser welding as any gaps between the two materials will produce an unsatisfactory weld.

A gantry system is again used to move the laser head in front of the accurately positioned battery stack. An intelligent vision camera is used to check that the battery terminals and busbars are in the correct position prior to the laser welding being initiated. If the vision system confirms a satisfactory scan, a penetration weld is performed on each busbar and terminal within the stack. The laser welding is repeated for both sides of the stack before the welded product is removed from the laser station.

Once the busbars are welded in place, a harness is fitted to either side of the battery stack, used for diagnostics once the battery stack is integrated into a vehicle. The harness welding uses the same principle where a gantry system is used to position the vision system in front of the battery stack and upon verification, the laser is initiated to perform a spot weld on each tab on the harness.

All three of the laser processes described above are performed using a fibre laser, with dedicated optics to suit the application. Ranging from 1kW up to close to 4kW, the laser output power varies for each process. The laser selection for any automated system is extremely important, and therefore Cyan Tec work alongside a number of laser partners to decide on the most suitable laser for any given application. Trumpf, IPG, Coherent and Laserlines are typically specified as part of Cyan Tec’s industrial automated solutions and offer the end user the ability to run laser trials prior to order commitment.

In addition to the laser cleaning and welding machines provided, there are many other areas of the battery assembly process that aligns with Cyan Tec’s core competencies. With an enviable history of designing and manufacturing bespoke assembly and test equipment, along with the supply of standalone and production line spray and dispensing systems, it means that Cyan Tec are well positioned to continue to service the automotive battery manufacturing market in the future.